Your Tuesday Briefing: Is Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Here?

Ukraine intensified attacks on Russian positions on many parts of the front line yesterday. The US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the spike in attacks could indicate that Ukraine had begun an expected counteroffensive, which could be its best effort to regain territory and come into any peace negotiations with a strong hand.

Officials based their assessment in part on information from military satellites, which detected increased action from Ukrainian positions. Ukraine has long said it would not make a formal announcement about the start of its counteroffensive.

Russia also said that major operations had started at five locations along the front in one eastern region, Donetsk, but managed to repel them. Bloggers affiliated with the Russian military reported that Ukrainian troops had advanced in several areas and had captured a village in Donetsk, but these claims could not be corroborated.

US military analysts say they believe Ukrainian units are making the initial push to determine Russian troop positions and strengths, a traditional tactic Americans have used to train Ukrainian forces.

Strategy: The attacks were reported to the east of where analysts expect a counteroffensive to begin. But even starting in that area would allow Ukraine to maintain the same goal: heading south towards the Sea of ​​Azov and cutting the “land bridge” connecting Crimea to Russia.

The stakes: If the counteroffensive is successful, Kyiv could secure long-term military aid commitments from the West. A win could also strengthen President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hand in any peace talks with Russia. Failure or lack of major progress could complicate Ukraine’s path forward and cause some Western officials to question war strategy.

Railway lines reopened at the Bahanaga Bazar train station, where at least 275 people died in a catastrophic crash on Friday. The resumption of services could reduce disruptions and help more families reach the area and identify their loved ones. There are still more than 100 bodies that have not been claimed.

Questions continued to swirl about who was responsible for the three-way crash. (This graphic shows how the disaster happened.) Officials focused on malfunctioning electronic signals, but they did not rule out sabotage. They are also investigating whether negligence played a role, but they have yet to identify a suspect.

Reaction: Opposition politicians called for the resignation of the railways minister and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of not doing enough to ensure rail safety.

Modi Focus: India spent nearly $30 billion on its rail system during the last fiscal year, 15 percent more than the previous year. But most of Modi’s initiatives are aimed at increasing speed and convenience—not basic safety. The amount spent on track maintenance and other safety measures has fallen.

Afghan officials believe that 89 girls and their teacher were deliberately poisoned at two all-girls schools. Several were hospitalized with respiratory and neurological symptoms, and officials said that security and intelligence forces were still searching for the perpetrators.

On Saturday, 63 students and staff members in northern Sar-i-Pul Province fell ill shortly after arriving at school, officials and parents said. The next day, 26 students and staff members at a nearby school reported the same symptoms.

The cases come at a crucial time for Afghan women and girls. Restrictions on education have been a flashpoint since the Taliban seized power in 2021. The restrictions are symbolic of the government’s policy towards women, which has effectively removed them from public life. the Taliban banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade; most of these students are aged 6 to 12 years.

History: The United Nations investigated similar cases between 2012 and 2016 and found no traces of chemical gas or poison, The Wall Street Journal reports. The United Nations concluded that the symptoms were the result of a mass psychogenic illness, a form of social panic.

in Iran: Earlier this year, hundreds of schoolgirls were hospitalized after what officials said was a deliberate attempt to stop them from going to school. The Minister of Home Affairs blamed stress and anxiety for some of their symptoms.

For more: In “The Daily,” three Afghan women talk about how life changed under the Taliban.

A small pop-up market in Los Angeles trying to be the center of the Filipino city community. Its creators envision it as an intergenerational space where new Filipino businesses can experiment, connect with their audience, and thrive.

Prince Harry’s years-long feud with the British tabloids will come to a head this week. Today, he will testify in a London courtroom against the Mirror newspaper group, which he says hacked his phone more than a decade ago. He has filed two other lawsuits against a British tabloid publisher relating to illicit information gathering.

Harry’s lawyers say the Mirror used private investigators to get information about him illegally, in part by intercepting voicemails. The publisher apologized and admitted to obtaining information about Harry illegally in one instance, but denied the hacking allegations.

The testimony unsettled the House of Windsor. Harry will be the first senior member of the royal family to be cross-examined in a legal case since the 19th century. (Normally, the family prefers to settle lawsuits.) In court, Harry could face questions about his personal life, or his relationships with other royals.

Background: This case is about more than money. Harry says he holds the tabloids responsible for the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in 1997. In his memoirs, he also describes the trauma caused by the tabloid’s disturbing coverage.

Practice baking basics with these five recipes.

In “Past Lives,” a sad what-if story, two childhood friends from Seoul pass through each other’s lives across decades and continents.

In “August Blue,” a new novel by Deborah Levy, a pianist changes herself amidst a personal and global crisis.

How to get rid of your old electronics.

Play Mini Crossword, and hint: Mushrooms and such (five letters).

This is Wordle and the Spelling Bee. You can find all of our puzzles here.

That’s all for today’s briefing. See you next time. —Amelia

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